A British composer based at the University of York is using acoustic analysis techniques to help create ground-breaking choral music designed specifically for a particular performance venue, reports UK website minsterfm.com.
“While composers have written pieces ‘for’ spaces for many years, the link between venue and composition has, until this point, been relatively imprecise,” says the University of York. Now Dr Ambrose Field, from York’s Department of Music, is using architectural acoustics to inform traditional musical composition processes.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been working on devising some new types of polyphonic process, specifically for vocal music,” writes Dr. Ambrose. “This is the first fruit of some of my recent thinking about overlapping structures, and the wonderful sounds they can create. Polyphony can’t just be a structure or a system – it must appeal to our emotions, must result in singable parts without awkwardness, and provide a whole which is, somehow, more than the sum of the parts.”
Information about how a venue might sound is gathered from three-dimensional acoustic analysis or from a combination of visual materials, measurements and subsequent acoustic modeling, say the University.
Dr Field, a composer recorded on the ECM records label, said: “Unlike existing ‘spectral’ or ‘algorithmic’ composition methods, the scientific results themselves are not directly translated or mapped into musical notes. Under my method, acoustic information is used as a guide, specifically to help obtain a better blend between the acoustic of performance venue and the notes on the stave.